Hot and Cold Meats

You might have heard someone somewhere mention something about hot and cold meats
But what are hot and cold meats and what do they actually mean by this?
How does it work?
How or when do you look more in to it?
Most importantly,, how do you implement it in your pet’s diet?

I bet you’re just as puzzled as I was when I first heard of it and want to know where this all came from and what it is all about.
On this page I will be giving options in regards to help with imbalances of the heart, lungs, liver, kidney and spleen, which can present an array of problems such as

  • Allergies
  • Obesity
  • Irritable Bowl Disease
  • Behavioural problems
  • Arthritis etc

In our western cultures we talk more about the nutritional value and benefits of our food E.G: vitamins and other nutritional content.

The Origin of Hot and Cold
The origin of hot and cold comes from Traditional Chinese Medicine TCM for short and unless you are deeply interested in holistic pet care or TCM there’s a high chance you haven’t heard about the different food energies
In the Chinese culture they speak of food having energies, flavours and movements.
Other aspects include meridian tropism and common and organic actions.
These refer to specific internal organs or the meridians on which the foods can act.

Based on these principles food can have a tonifying (Qi), cleansing and regulating effect on the body.
Balance makes us healthy while imbalance encourages or provokes illness (Yin = cooling and Yang = warming)
TCM teaches that a person’s, or animal’s natural energy requires balance that can be achieved through a variety of factors such as food.
These practices date back to ancient China during the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD).

Nutrition is essential for good health and is an important part of TCM, but often overlooked.
At its core, the purpose of food is to nourish the body and to maintain health and vitality.
It is a preventative medicine.
The majority of today’s illnesses are chronic and entirely preventable.
Roughly 75% of healthcare spendings go towards treating preventable diseases.
Proper nutrition in the form of a lifestyle diet should be key whether promoting well-being or when treating dis-harmonies in the body.
Following TCM practices, it is believed that each animal protein or plant-based ingredient has an energy that can interact with your pet’s natural energy.
The goal is to create perfect harmony for both the Yin and Yang energies.

Nutritional therapy is often quite effective at treating common causes and effects of diseases based on TCM diagnosis   like Qi deficiency or Blood deficiency, but sometimes nutritional therapy may not be enough.

Nutritional therapy can, however, be an excellent supplemental therapy used in combination with other TCM therapies like acupuncture or herbs.
The nutritional TCM principles don’t just apply to us humans but can be applied to our pets as well.

When implementing TCM to your pets diet we will have to look at your pets eating habits
The foundation to finding what type of proteins your pet should be eating depends on what their energy is like.
The characteristics of each of the different energies can help you understand what your pet is

General Eating Habits for your pets

  • Let them eat in a calm and relaxed atmosphere and do not rush their meal
  • Avoid intense interactions at meal time
  • Chewing food supports spleen Qi
  • Don’t let them eat late at night
  • Avoid over-consumption and or excessive fasting

There are five forms of energy:

  • Cold
  • Cool
  • Neutral
  • Warm
  • Hot

These energies are related to the sensations they produce in the body, rather than refer to the state or temperature of which the food is in.
As mentioned above we can use these energies to address several problems.

Cold/ Cooling Foods (Yin)
Yin’s qualities of inward, quiet, night-time, maternal, cool and fluids

  • Duck
  • Frog
  • Rabbit
  • Pig Skin
  • Egg White
  • Duck Egg


  • Clam
  • Cod
  • Scallop
  • White Fish

Neutral Foods
Neutral foods are believed to be suitable for everyone and don’t increase the Yin or Yang balance in the body.
Neutral foods will tonify Qi and Blood and harmonize Yin and Yang.
They can be used in combination with other types of energies/ foods to add variety and choice or to decrease the harshness of a very cold or very hot diet.

  • Beef
  • Bison
  • Goose
  • Pork
  • Quail
  • Tripe
  • Egg Yolk
  • Quail Egg


  • Carp
  • Catfish
  • Herring
  • Mackerel
  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Tuna

Warming Foods (QI)
Qi tonic foods are foods that warm the body, allowing the body to develop and maintain warmth.

  • Camel
  • Chicken
  • Mutton
  • Chicken Liver
  • Goat
  • Llama
  • Kangaroo
  • Ostrich
  • Pheasant
  • Turkey (both warming and neutral)
  • Pigs Liver
  • Goose Egg


  • Anchovy
  • Lobster
  • Mussel
  • Shrimp
  • Sturgeon
  • Prawn

Hot Foods
Yang is the opposite of Yin
Yang qualities include: outward, active, heat and inflammation

  • Alpaca
  • Kidney
  • Lamb
  • Sheep
  • Venison
  • Elk


  • Trout

I’ve done some research on Kangaroo and Guinea Pig, as they are used in many diets, however I have not been able to get a conclusive answer as to whether it is a cold or hot protein.
Some say it’s a cold as where others say it’s a cooling or hot protein, as such I think common sense and trial and error will be needed on these
Another protein I’ve been trying to research is Elk.
I’ve only found one reference to Elk which classes every exotic meat as warming/ hot, however I have seen quite a few discrepancies in their write up and as such don’t know how much I should trust this reference.
At the same token seen as Venison is classed as a hot meat going on the fact that they are similar species wise and most of the nutritional break down is the same/ similar I would put Elk in the same category for that reason, but again I think common sense and trial and error will be needed

Pets that are Yin or cold can have symptoms like:

  • Arthritis
  • Behaviours such as anxiety or aggression
  • Cancer
  • Depression
  • Dry skin
  • Dry cough
  • Fatigue
  • Glandular abnormalities (Cushing’s disease for example or feline hyperthyroidism)
  • Inflammatory bowel disease [IBD]
  • Looking for cool/ cold places
  • Muscle ache
  • Neurologic problems (seizures)
  • Panting
  • Restlessness
  • Skin allergies (inflammation)
  • Stuffy nose

Pets that tend to be cold will benefit from warming and hot foods.
Warming and hot foods will help clear up the cold in the body.

Pets that are Qi can have symptoms like:

  • Chronic diarrhoea
  • Fatigue
  • Incontinence
  • Loss of body weight
  • Muscle Atrophy
  • Poor appetite
  • Shortness of breath/ Asthma
  • Weakness

Pets that tend to be Qi will benefit from warming foods.
Warming foods will help up the neutralise the body.

Pets that are Yang or hot can have symptoms like:

  • Behavioural problems (canine cognitive dysfunction)
  • Coldness to ears, back and limbs (lie in front of fires or snuggle under covers}
  • Degenerative conditions (age related changes, degenerative joint disease)
  • High blood pressure
  • Lethargy/ weakness
  • Glandular abnormalities (canine hypothyroidism, diabetes etc.)
  • Obesity
  • Red eyes or skin
  • Skin rash

Pets that tend to be hot will benefit from cold and cooling foods.
Cold and cooling foods will clear up heat in the body.
* You don’t have to feed just neutral proteins if you want a neutral meal, you can mix and match foods out of the cold/cooling with foods from warming and hot to create a balanced neutral diet
* If you’re aiming towards a cooling diet and you can’t feed a 100% cold, you can mix and match by feeding 75% cold/cooling to 25% hot.
* Don’t feed any warm or hot proteins if your pet shows any form of inflammation  (including cancer) .
* General rule of thumb is that organs are fed the same way as the protein itself, so if the protein is warm so is the organ unless stated otherwise

Older Pets
The digestive ability of the gut is reduced in older pets and hence, it is important that our seniors are fed fresh, easily digestible food that is rich in nutrients.
Some considerations for feeding an elderly pet are:

  • Do not feed cold foods as this decreases yang energy and leads to poor digestion and gastrointestinal issues, feed easily digestible food at room temperature.
  • Add foods rich in omega 3, such as salmon, sardines, mackerel.
  • Feed several times a day instead of one big meal

Allergies and food
There are two types of allergies, food and environmental/inhaled.
Each of these types of allergy affects your pet differently, but they can be addressed using the same theories.
There are some very simple steps that can be taken to decrease the severity of your pet’s reaction.

Environmental allergy
If your pet hasn’t shown any signs of an allergy before, you might want to look at any changes in and around the house no matter how small, E.G
Have you brought in something new (rug, settee, different diffuser, different detergent etc)
Did you got a pup/ kitten in winter and is he/ she  spending more time outside now (grass, pollen etc)
Environmental allergies happen when your pet inhales mould, pollens, dust mites, but also air fresheners, detergents etc and it would be helpful to find the root of the cause.
These allergies can cause for the whole body to become red and inflamed as a result of too much heat, which can indicate an underlying issue of Liver QI stagnation.
Recommended foods to feed in cases like this are cold/ cooling

Food allergy
These allergies can cause for the whole body to become red and inflamed as a result of too much heat, which can indicate an underlying issue of Liver QI stagnation.
If you suspect that your pet has a food allergy it is important you find out what food(s) is casing the reaction.
To be able to do so you’ll have to do an elimination diet, meaning you’ll have to go back to just feeding 1 protein for 2 to 3 weeks and wait till the allergic reaction has gone and slowly reintroduce other proteins again.
If your pet shows any signs of an intolerance during the re-introduction period (diarrhoea, vomiting, irritated skin) this protein will have to be eliminated from the diet permanently.
Same as with an environmental allergy recommended foods to feed are cold/ cooling

Heart and food
There is a connection between the heart and stomach.
Take a look at the stomach as well as the heart when presented with sleep problems and or restlessness
The best ways to prevent these issues is to adjust eating habits, avoid overeating and don’t feed late at night and reduce stress.
Additionally, an 18 to 24 hours fasts can be beneficial to relieve the food stagnation.

The heart rules the blood and blood vessels, and stores the shen (spirit).
Nourishment of the heart brings a long healthy life.
The heart governs blood and circulation.
For a normal heartbeat, with a smooth and even rate and rhythm, regulating circulation, heart Qi and blood must be in abundance.

The heart houses the shen.
When the shen is harmonious, the mind is clear, the physical body is full of energy, and the spirit is calm and peaceful.
A disturbed shen can show in the form of restlessness, insomnia, anxiety, and panic.
The heart requires Qi and Yin to properly house and anchor the shen.
The right diet can support the blood and Yin of the heart and support the shen.
Calm the shen by avoiding energetically hot foods.
This heat can easily be aggravated by stress and anger.
Damp and phlegm can also unfavourably impact the heart and shen
By removing damp forming foods from the diet it can help aid in proper heart function and a healthy shen.

Blood deficiency can have symptoms like:

  • Pale white gums
  • Dry flaky skin
  • Cracked paw pads
  • Lack of Stamina

Blood tonic proteins:

  • Beef
  • Liver
  • Oyster
  • Pork
  • Pork skin
  • Sardines

Foods that are beneficial for Heart Disharmonies
Heart Qi and Yang Deficiency

  • Beef
  • Lamb
  • Pheasant

Avoid cold/ frozen food

Heart Fire
Avoid warming/ hot food

Heart Blood Deficiency
Add food with neutral and warming actions:

  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Eggs
  • Pheasant
  • Oysters

Phlegm-Heat Missing the Heart
Avoid eggs and red meats

Heart Blood Stagnation
Add foods that move stagnation:

  • Crab
  • Eggs
  • Venison

Heart Yin Deficiency
Foods that support kidney yin also can be used to support heart Yin

Kidney’s and food
A good diet protects and supports the kidney and its ability to function properly.
The kidney is the foundation of yin and yang.
A good diet enables the Kidney to support and influence the yin and yang of the entire body, with Yin’s energy nurturing, supporting, and moistening the body and Yang’s energy warming, energising, and moving the body.
Kidney Yang is the root of Yang, providing energy and warmth for the entire body, enabling proper function.
As the kidney dislikes cold, energetically cold foods deplete the kidney’s Yang and blocks its ability to warm the whole body Yang.
More specific to the digestive process the kidney Yang can be seen in the digestive process as digestive fire.
When the digestive fire is healthy and strong food is effectively transformed into Qi and blood.
If the digestive fire is weak it cannot provide enough warmth and energy to the digestive process, resulting in diarrhoea, bloating, poor appetite,and abdominal pain.

The Kidney is the source of life, or original Qi, and is often called the “Root of Life” as it stores and controls the jing, the essence of our physical body.
Jing is composed of prenatal jing that is inherited from the parents and stored in the kidneys and postnatal or acquired jing in the form of Qi and nourishment is derived from food via the spleen and stomach and from air via the lungs.
This nourishing essence supports the whole body with the surplus being stored in the kidney. Prenatal jing cannot be replaced or replenished, however it can be conserved through proper diet and lifestyle with the postnatal jingnurturing and supporting the prenatal jing
In cases of congenital insufficiency or constitutional weakness derived from poor prenatal jing, it is very important for the body to be supported and supplemented as much as possible by the postnatal jing.

Recommended Foods to Support the Kidney

  • Bone broth
  • Venison
  • Lobster
  • Oysters
  • Salmon
  • Shrimp
  • Tuna

Beneficial Foods for Kidney Disharmonies
Kidney Qi Kidney Yang Deficiency

  • Chicken
  • Duck
  • Goat
  • Lamb
  • Pork
  • Venison
  • Lobster
  • Oysters
  • Mussels
  • Salmon
  • Shrimp
  • Trout
  • Tuna

Supplementing jing through nutritional therapy is not effective, however the foods listed above for kidney Qi, yin, yang deficiency can be beneficial in helping support pets with kidney jing deficiency.

Liver and food
A good diet can have a powerful effect on the liver and its ability to function properly.
Often when discussing digestion and the liver the first thing that comes to mind is liver overacting on the spleen and stomach, delaying or even preventing the digestive function and hinder the absorption of nutrients.
Often what we do not pay attention to is the digestion of food by the spleen and stomach and how that plays an important role in providing the liver enough nourishment in the form of Qi that was derived from food.
If the liver does not get enough nourishment or not the right type of nourishment imbalance and disharmony in the liver will occur.
Likewise proper nutrition can help resolve existing imbalances.

Nutritionally it is important to find a balance between getting enough energy and not taking in anything that will over excite, as this will exhaust the liver energy as well as the energy of the spleen and stomach.
It is important to avoid stimulants.
The emotion of anger is closely related to the liver.
It is also important to eliminate foods that congest the liver like saturated fats, hydrogenated fats, and highly processed foods.
Eating habits can stagnate and congest the liver as well, so try not to skip meals, let your pet eat quickly, overeat or eat late.

Recommended Foods to Support the Liver
Liver Qi Stagnation
Add foods which have a calming effect on the Liver

  • Crayfish
  • Prawns
  • Shrimp

Liver Damp-Heat
Add foods that clear heat and drain damp
Salmon or Krill oil

Liver Yin Deficiency
Add foods that have actions to nourish Yin:
Kefir or Kombucha

Liver Yang Rising
Avoid fatty/ oily foods

Liver Blood Deficiency
Add foods that nourish liver blood:

  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Duck
  • Egg yolk
  • liver
  • Rabbit
  • Turkey
  • Crab
  • Mussels
  • Octopus
  • Oysters

Spleen & Stomach and food
The spleen and stomach are the most important organs to support with nutritional therapy as they play a crucial role in the digestive process.
Dis-harmonies of the spleen and stomach often show up together and can generally be treated at the same time.

The spleen is in charge of nutrition and digestion.
It is the source of acquired Qi, creating energy from food and water.
The spleen, together with the stomach, is responsible for the absorption, distribution, transformation, and transportation of that energy.
The health of the spleen dictates how effectively nutrients are absorbed from food.
When the spleen is functioning well, a pet will shave dynamic energy, a good appetite, and a healthy digestion.
When there is dysfunction in the spleen, chronic fatigue and poor digestion symptoms like abdominal bloating, excess gas, diarrhoea or loose stools, nausea, poor appetite etc will be present. Pets with dis-harmonies in this system must incorporate healthy eating habits into their life if they are to overcome their health concerns.

The spleen generally responds very well to dietary treatments.
General foods that benefit the middle burner are mildly sweet foods like poultry, however, overindulgence of sweet can be harmful to the spleen.
Avoid excessive consumption of naturally sweet foods.
Cold foods contract and stagnate the middle burner and stops digestion, and are best avoided. Additionally, those without a strong middle burner often have low digestive fire and need to avoid those cold foods as they will aggravate the condition, and alternatively eat more foods that are warming.
Don’t let your pet overeat, moderation is key.
Meat stock or bone broth can be beneficial.

Another main function of the spleen is to govern body fluids.
If the spleen Qi becomes deficient, the transportation and transformation function become hindered, resulting in damp-phlegm accumulation.
The stomach has a close connection with the spleen and is very import to the digestive process.
Its main function is the absorption of food, separating the pure, which goes to the spleen and lung, and waste which goes to the small intestine.
Dryness and heat can damage the stomach.
Hot,bitter or pungent foods should be avoided with stomach pathologies.

Recommended Foods to Support the Spleen & Stomach

  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Duck
  • Lamb
  • Turkey
  • Venison
  • Trout
  • Halibut
  • Mackerel
  • Salmon
  • Tuna
  • Shellfish

Beneficial Foods for Spleen & Stomach Dis-harmonies
Spleen Qi & Yang or Stomach Qi Deficiency
Add foods that are slightly sweet and warming:

  • Broth
  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Duck
  • lamb
  • liver
  • Turkey
  • Venison
  • Trout
  • Salmon
  • Tuna
  • Mackerel
  • Halibut
  • Shellfish

Stomach Yin Deficiency
Add foods that are mostly neutral and cooling:

  • Duck
  • Eggs
  • Frog
  • Goose
  • Pork
  • Rabbit

Stomach Qi Deficiency with Cold Accumulation
This pattern is often accompanied with spleen yang deficiency.
Add foods that warm and nourish:
Use the diet recommendations under spleen yang deficiency

Stomach Fire
Add foods that are cooling

Lungs and food
Nutrition therapy can be used to prevent lung dis-harmonies as well as help treat existing conditions.
The lungs are susceptible to deficiencies of Qi and Yin, and excess conditions of phlegm, dryness, wind-heat, wind-cold, and toxic-heat.
One of the most important functions of the lung is to control qi and breathing.
Supporting and strengthening the lung Qi and Yin through nutrition can be used to help with multiple aspects of the lung pathology.
1) Treating symptoms such as shortness of breath and weak breath.
2) Strengthening the exterior can help prevent external bacterial/ viral invasions, like a cold or allergies.
3) Supporting proper lung function can help diffuse Qi, moistening the body and preventing dryness.

If the spleen is weak or over-taxed it can be the source of phlegm production.
Instead of a fine mist, phlegm is sent to the lungs.
If the lungs are unable to spread it throughout the body it ends up storing in the lung resulting in wheezing, shortness of breath, etc.
Proper diet can help resolve chronic phlegm and prevent further accumulation.
To aid the lungs it is best to feed easy-to-digest foods that are fresh.
This helps increase the nutritional value and the absorption and digestion of food.
By feeding smaller meals at more frequent intervals over-taxation is prevented.
Lung deficiency often effects the kidney and spleen, and can deplete these organ systems as well, so foods that are beneficial to the spleen and kidney are often used to benefit the lungs.
Conversely, in the case of lung problems, remember to look at the spleen and kidney to see if either needs support as well.

Signs of Phlegm include

  • Dog smell
  • Gooy eyes
  • Ear discharge
  • Hot spots
  • Cough

Foods that transform phlegm:

  • Clam
  • Crab
  • Lobster
  • Prawn
  • Shrimp

Beneficial Foods for Lung Disharmonies
add acrid, warm foods to supplement the lung Qi:

  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Duck
  • Goose
  • Quail
  • Rabbit
  • Tuna
  • Kefir
  • Kombucha
  • ACV

Lung Phlegm-Damp Accumulation
Foods that treat Qi deficiency should be added to prevent further formation of phlegm

Lung Phlegm-Heat
Add cold/ cooling foods and avoid red meats

Lung Yin Deficiency
Add foods that are slightly cooling and neutral to supplement and nourish lung yin

  • Chicken broth
  • Clams
  • Egg
  • Pork
  • Oysters

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